MVNO Monday: a guide to the week’s virtual operator developments

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16 Oct 2017

Thai MVNO The WhiteSpace Co, which trades as Penguin SIM, has signed an agreement to offer services over TOT’s 2100MHz network, in addition to its existing 850MHz wholesale deal with CAT Telecom, which commenced on 1 March 2016. According to the Bangkok Post, the new 2100MHz wholesale deal will take effect in November this year. WhiteSpace chief executive Chaiyod Chirabowornkul told the newspaper that Penguin SIM currently has 300,000 active users and sells around 40,000 SIM cards per month. For its part, TOT’s senior executive vice-president Rungsun Channarukul confirmed that there are currently two active MVNOs using the telco’s 2100MHz network, namely i-Kool and BuzzMe. The two MVNOs have around 100,000 subscribers between them, he noted.

Peru’s Ministry of Transport and Communications (Ministerio de Transportes y Comunicaciones, MTC) has confirmed that Dolphin Telecom’s registration as an MVNO is valid, dismissing claims from Entel Peru that the company does not meet the conditions to be classified as a virtual operator. Entel had claimed that as current regulations require would-be MVNOs to own neither infrastructure nor spectrum, and Dolphin owns spectrum for digital trunked radio services, Dolphin’s registration as an MVNO was invalid. The MTC rejected Entel’s position, however, noting that Dolphin’s spectrum allocation does not allow for the provision of a public mobile telephone service.

Sticking with Latin America, Mexico has a new MVNO in the form of Simplii, which is backed by a team of Mexican and Danish entrepreneurs. The MVNO, which piggybacks on the Movistar Mexico network, seeks to lure customers away from the ‘misleading offers, expensive plans and terrible customer service’ offered by the incumbents, with a ‘fair, accessible and uncomplicated’ proposition.

Russian triple-play operator AlmaTel plans to launch MVNO services over the Tele2 Russia network by the end of 2017, with a third-party company, long-distance operator Multiregional Transit Telecom (MTT) acting as the mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE). According to ComNews, AlmaTel aims to bundle MVNO services with its existing fixed broadband services for consumers and B2B users, but says it will also offer standalone mobile. Tele2 separately confirmed that it has an existing agreement with Digital-1 (part of AlmaTel) on the establishment of an MVNO. TeleGeography notes that the telco’s 2Kom and Digital-1 businesses were recently rebranded under the AlmaTel banner in Moscow city, Moscow region, Tver, Saratov and Krasnodar.

The Icelandic Competition Authority (ICA) has granted its conditional approval to Vodafone Iceland’s (Fjarskipti’s) acquisition of ‘a large portion of the telecoms and media businesses’ of 365 Media. The ISK8 billion (USD76 million) deal – which was agreed in March 2017 – is now expected to close on 1 December. TeleGeography notes that 365 currently uses Vodafone’s network to resell fixed and mobile services and Siminn’s 3G/4G network to provide mobile broadband access.

Liberty Global has selected Dublin-based Openet to incorporate its Network Selection Intelligence (NSI) solution into Liberty Global’s newly-released Connect App, which seeks to offer users seamless connectivity both in and out of the home via an easy-to-use interface. Liberty Global, which operates MVNOs in a number of European markets, including the UK, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland and Hungary, also presides over some ten million Wi-Fi hotspots in Europe. Pieter Vervoort, vice president of Connectivity Products at Liberty Global, commented: ‘As consumers more regularly swap and flip between mobile and Wi-Fi connectivity, they expect an uninterrupted experience.’

Finally, Paragon, a blockchain start-up focused on building physical and digital infrastructure to accelerate the legal cannabis industry, has announced a partnership with Luxembourg-based MVNO MTX Connect. The tie-up means that MTX Connect will accept Paragon’s cryptocurrency as a means of payment. Paragon notes that, by bringing MTX Connect into the constellation of service-providers accepting ParagonCoin as payment, it will bring security to a fragmented industry, and help cannabis entrepreneurs stay connected for a reasonable price, wherever they travel.

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